STREET WISE: Can Boonklee go all the way?


Before entering politics, Thaksin Shinawatra showed his shrewdness in picking a corporate successor. Shin Corp’s Boonklee Plangsiri has proven he can lead the company to prosperity, with huge earnings growth for shareholders.

But picking a political successor may not be quite so easy, for Thaksin – no matter how influential he is – cannot simply make the decision on his own. There are the opinions of Thai Rak Thai members and the general public to be considered. That explains why so many choices have been touted as potential successors.

But the mention of Boonklee’s name as a possible political heir caught many by surprise. The main question is how the business executive would fit into the picture when his expertise is strong in terms of driving up the Shin’s earnings, rather than bolstering the faith of party members or mobilising votes from the public.

But certainly just the mention of Boonklee’s name as a potential successor must leave some of other possible candidates feeling uneasy.

No matter how good they are when it comes to the art of the possible, Boonklee has been proven to be the man who knows Thaksin’s mind best. Want proof? Since Boonklee has reigned over Thaksin’s sprawling corporate empire, the PM has never expressed a view at odds with one of Boonklee’s business decisions.

A Thai Rak Thai insider said this was mainly attributable to Boonklee thoroughly thinking everything through close consultation between the two men. Can Thaksin expect something like this from the others?

Another insider said Thaksin was deeply impressed with Boonklee’s qualities and the relationship they have built.

“Boonklee has tried hard to avoid entering politics. But one day, the pressure will be so huge that he can’t avoid it,” said the “inner circle” source.

The big question is: Can Boonklee remain bright in the world of politics? Would he be as successful in the House as he has proven himself to be in the business world?

Published on March 01, 2005

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